To define project management, we first need to define what a “project” is. According to the Project Management Institute, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” Both “temporary” and “unique” are key words in this definition; they imply that a project is a process that takes place over a specified, limited period of time, and that this process is designed to achieve one specific outcome and is not a routine business activity.
Project management is the set of skills and techniques used to ensure that these projects are successfully delivered on time and within the bounds of other constraints including budget and resource allocation. Managing the project development process requires careful upfront project planning, an identification of key project milestones and a detailed schedule for achieving them, cost estimates and methods of cost control throughout the process, and risk analysis to identify potential challenges and risk management plans to limit them.
This methodical process is important - and powerful - because it is used to deliver an incredibly wide range of project outcomes that indeed span “products, services, and results.” Project management skills are required to create everything from skyscrapers to mobile apps to consulting white papers, and talented project managers can make a huge difference in making these investments profitable. Read our article and learn about skills, salary, requirements, and reasons to consider a versatile career in project management.
If you’re an organized person with a talent for managing teams and a passion for getting things done, a background in project management can open up a wide range of career paths. While the project development process may be similar across industries, the widespread applicability of these skills allows you to work on an incredibly diverse range of project types.
One common type of project management professional are construction managers, who are responsible for delivering construction and engineering projects ranging from single-family homes to office buildings to roads, power plants, and other critical infrastructure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction managers usually have a bachelor’s degree and earn a median wage of $93,370 per year, and these jobs are projected to grow by 10% from 2018 to 2028 - faster than the national average. Read this guide for updated information about how much project managers typically make, as well as some of the factors that can influence your salary.
Project management skills aren’t just useful for building physical structures. Information technology (IT) and software project management skills are needed to build out important data infrastructure for businesses of all types, including intranets, servers, databases, and storage and backup systems. And, if you want to guide the creation of mobile apps, games, and other computer programs, you can become a software product manager and lead teams of software developers, marketers, and other personnel through the development process.
Yes, online courses on Coursera can teach project management principles and practices, the fundamentals of project planning, and the professional and personal “soft” skills you need to deliver projects successfully. You can also get more specialized project management skills relevant to specific industries, including construction management, engineering project management, IT and software project management, and software product management.
These courses and Specializations allow you to learn remotely on a flexible schedule, and usually at a significantly lower cost than on-campus alternatives. And, because Coursera partners with top-ranked institutions like Columbia University, University of California, Irvine, and the University of Virginia, you can learn project management skills online without sacrificing the quality of your education.
The Project Management Professional certification, or PMP certification, is a project management certification recognized around the world. There are over one million PMP certification holders worldwide, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI) which administers the certification. It is applicable to project managers in virtually any industry, be it health, construction, information technology (IT), or business. Read this guide about the PMP certification.
Before you start to learn product management, it’s helpful to have a background or experience in strategic thinking, communication, research, technology, project management, presentation, and financial or analytical practices. Getting good at these skills will help you if you choose to work in this field. Working in product management generally means you are seeking ways to improve your product, whether it’s a software product or a box of cereal. Using your leadership skills, you could show a strategic vision that’s positive for your company’s product. Your skills in strategy, marketing, sales, engineering, and administrative work could also be beneficial to learning and working in product management.
Those who are best suited for roles in project management are professionals who are organized, meet deadlines, are able to work with teams, and have relevant work experience in their backgrounds that shows leadership in a variety of projects. Working as a volunteer or working with others on side projects might qualify a person for skills needed in project management. Along with having the right qualifications and certifications, a person should show qualities of leadership, planning, budgeting, and time management.
Project management might be right for you if you are the type of person who likes to take charge, organize a team, and initiate, plan, and execute crucial projects for an organization. It’s a big responsibility to be a project manager, especially in large technology companies where the success of a new project is crucial to the company’s annual revenues. In most cases, a clear, calm, level-headed person with leadership capabilities can be groomed to become a successful project manager.